Pierce County Sheriff defends department after recent use of force report

Mar 4, 2022, 8:48 AM
Pierce County Sheriff's Department vehicles in 2021. (Photo courtesy of Pierce County Sheriff's Dep...
Pierce County Sheriff's Department vehicles in 2021. (Photo courtesy of Pierce County Sheriff's Department/Facebook)
(Photo courtesy of Pierce County Sheriff's Department/Facebook)

Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer is defending his department after a Tacoma News Tribune opinion piece claims the department uses force far more often on people of color and minority groups.

“We don’t have use of force complaints against us,” Troyer told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH this week. “We investigate all — we have none that were excessive, and we have very, very few complaints over the five years of this study.”

The op-ed references an study released in November 2021 that focuses on the use of force by Pierce County deputies between the years of 2016 and 2020.

Report shows biased policing from Pierce County Sheriff’s Department

But Sheriff Troyer says there are some problems with the analysis. He explained that a simple, mandatory arrest could involve four or five uses of force that are not violent, from grabbing the suspect’s arm to putting on handcuffs.

“If you grab somebody’s arm and lead them to the car because you don’t want them to fall and get hurt, we help them get into the back of the car, we handcuff them, and then we take them out and bring them to jail. There could be four or five uses of force in that particular one arrest,” he said.

“Somebody gets arrested for say, domestic violence. And we tell them they’re under arrest, and we put handcuffs on them, even though they’re being cooperative, we stick them in the patrol car. That’s three uses of force — it’s not excessive force or unlawful force. They’re not clarifying that, they’re just saying ‘use of force,'” Troyer said about the report.

Pierce County proposes deputy retention bonuses amid crime wave, biased policing concerns

Troyer also says many arrests are mandatory, such as DUI or domestic violence, and that any racial disparity in the figures needs to be looked at systemically.

“There’s more people being arrested of color, Hispanic, or Native American, we need to decide why is that happening — not just in law enforcement, the whole entire criminal justice system,” he said.

Listen to the full interview with Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer:

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3 – 6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Pierce County Sheriff defends department after recent use of force report